Friday, June 17, 2011

Red-bud!!!

This one is going to be a little more rambling than normal.



The other day, I was looking for a second Book Off (used bookstore) that is about a kilometer from me. The maps of the location don't show all the smaller streets very well so I decided to just head out from the Kagoshima-chuo station and hope that I'd stumble across the store sign near the main street. After about an hour of following the main streetcar line south, I finally gave up and headed back to the station. It was an interesting walk, because it let me see some of the shopping areas in a more rundown section of town, and I was getting close to the university campus there. As I got closer to the chuo station again, I reached a major cross street that heads east towards Sakura-jima, and contains the San-Eru (3-L) building. San-Eru has a community center inside, and on the 4th floor you can use their PCs, printers and scanners for 200 yen ($2.50 USD) for 2 hours. I'd visited there several times right after coming to Kagoshima to print out copies of my resume and stuff. Along the way to San-Eru, I encountered this one tree. The buds and flowers are a very deep red, and it's the only tree of its kind in the area. No idea what it's called.



After getting back home, I looked at the new Brother all-in-one printer I just bought last week and I started wondering what would happen if I tried printing out the flowers from the red-bud tree to use for the basis of another Celes origami project. My trial copy of Paint Shop Pro had just expired, and I wasn't sure if I should pay for a duplicate copy, since I have a registered copy on my main desktop PC that's in storage now. However, I'd recently seen a how-to book at Kinokuniya for using GIMP and it looked pretty advanced, so I figured I may as well try downloading a copy and practicing with it using the Celes project as an excuse. For being freeware, GIMP is actually pretty good. I would prefer having hot keys for the more common operations (like rotate, crop and scale), and the auto-contrast and auto-saturation options are best left alone. Plus, the grid steps don't align right with the ruler, but that's a minor complaint. It took a couple of hours to figure out how to create my Celes template and add the red-bud photo to the patterns library, but after that the project went pretty quickly. A few seconds later, I was printing out sheets of 6 cm x 18 cm strips that I could cut out for the Celes project.



The final step was to fold and assemble the strips to make the Celes. Unfortunately, for some reason the computer stores in Kagoshima don't sell heavy bond printer paper. Instead, it's this really thin stuff that you can see through easily. Maybe that's fine for quick-and-dirty printouts of e-mail, but it's too flimsy for my purposes. I should probably have used shorter strips, like 2 x 12 or even 1.5 x 9, to avoid having the Celes collapse under its own weight. Then again, paper quality aside, the resulting Celes does look pretty cool. The red-bud photo works well as a pattern, giving an overall Christmas-y kaleidoscope red Chrysanthemum effect (even though, because the paper isn't matched to the ink properly, it looks really washed out). What would probably look even better would be to print it on thicker photo glossy paper, but that might get a bit pricey for what is just a casual experiment.




Summary:
South Kagoshima City is boring
Sakurajima is an ash-spewing volcano
Red-bud trees are weird
GIMP is good despite being freeware
Red-bud patterned Celes origami on flimsy paper is not a good match

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